10 December 2014

Into the Heart of Darkness

Congress Declares War on Russia

[Re-posted here by Ron Paul Institute For Peace and Prosperity]

The United States is careening toward an unnecessary new cold war with Russia.  Cold War II may be even more dangerous than the first Cold War, because the constitutional checks and balances and the attention span of the people regulating the US government’s behaviour have broken down. While Ukraine is now at the center of this madness, the neocon-driven march to folly has roots reaching well beyond the Ukraine. 
At the same time the United States is rushing to an unnecessary and unwarranted confrontation with Russia, it is engaged in perpetual war on terror that is creating enemies in the Islamic world faster than we can kill them.  Moreover, the grand-strategic focus of the war on terror has degenerated into a swamp of contradictions. About the only outcome that is clear in the war on terror is that defense contractors will be the winners.  And then, there is the looming pivot to a confrontation with China. 
In short, the warmongering politicians of American Empire, like those of the Roman Empire, have succumbed to the delusion of their own invincibility and are driving the United States into the age-old cul-de-sac of military overextension.  
Yet at the same time the country is careening to disaster, the American people are tuning out on their government and its actions.  
The chart below (produced by the Pew Foundation) illustrates this point.  There has been precipitous decline in the percentage of Americans who trust the government “always” or “most of the time.” 

This chart is derived from a larger report released last June by the Pew Foundation.  The report describes the breakdown in American politics by analyzing its “fragmented center.” While partisan polarization is a central feature of gridlock politics today, the ideological wings driving this polarization make up a minority of the public.  The political landscape includes a huge “fragmented center” that is “large and diverse, unified by frustration with politics and little else.” The majority of people that make up the center simply do not trust their government to act in a constructive way.  But — ominously — rather than demanding a correction, they have tuned out, while the delusional ideologues shaping US foreign policy march them and their country to disaster. 
The conjugation of warmongering ideologues (reinforced by the factional interests of the Military - Industrial - Congressional Complex) with widespread citizen apathy (reinforced by a sensationalist mass media dumbing them down) has created an extremely dangerous political dynamic. 
It establishes the preconditions for the horror feared by James Madison in his 4 August 1822 letter to W. T. Barry, where he began by saying: 
“A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." [emphasis added]

For those readers who doubt this danger, consider please, House Resolution 758, which just passed overwhelming with a majority of 411 to 10 in the House of Representatives.  
While H.R. 758 remains virtually unnoticed by the tuned-out mass of American people inhabiting the “fragmented center,” the resolution is a toxic mix of outright lies and sly misrepresentations that is tantamount to a declaration of Cold War on Russia.
Former Congressman Ron Paul, a principled libertarian, dispassionately deconstructs H.R. 758 in the essay attached below.  He lays bare the lies, propaganda, and misrepresentations of H.R. 758 in a workmanlike manner.
But Ron Paul is not alone in this regard. Also recommended for your reading pleasure: Paleoconservative Pat Buchanan and arch-lefty Diana Johnstone just penned essays that are in harmony with and expand on Paul’s critique, albeit in less dispassionate ways.  
More generally, Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago just penned a long analytical essay in Foreign Affairs in which he documents the sordid diplomatic history of our march to folly and the unnecessary confrontation with Russia.  And last May, Bill Greider described some of the domestic politics, particularly the influence of defense contractors, leading up to the confrontation. 
Recommended Reading
Attached herewith is Ron Paul must-read analysis of H.R. 758
Chuck Spinney

Reckless Congress 'Declares War' on Russia
written by Ron Paul
December 4, 2014

Today the US House passed what I consider to be one of the worst pieces of legislation ever. H. Res. 758 was billed as a resolution “strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under President Vladimir Putin, which has carried out a policy of aggression against neighboring countries aimed at political and economic domination.”
In fact, the bill was 16 pages of war propaganda that should have made even neocons blush, if they were capable of such a thing.
These are the kinds of resolutions I have always watched closely in Congress, as what are billed as “harmless” statements of opinion often lead to sanctions and war. I remember in 1998 arguing strongly against the Iraq Liberation Act because, as I said at the time, I knew it would lead to war. I did not oppose the Act because I was an admirer of Saddam Hussein – just as now I am not an admirer of Putin or any foreign political leader – but rather because I knew then that another war against Iraq would not solve the problems and would probably make things worse. We all know what happened next.
That is why I can hardly believe they are getting away with it again, and this time with even higher stakes: provoking a war with Russia that could result in total destruction!
If anyone thinks I am exaggerating about how bad this resolution really is, let me just offer a few examples from the legislation itself:
The resolution (paragraph 3) accuses Russia of an invasion of Ukraine and condemns Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty. The statement is offered without any proof of such a thing. Surely with our sophisticated satellites that can read a license plate from space we should have video and pictures of this Russian invasion. None have been offered. As to Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty, why isn’t it a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty for the US to participate in the overthrow of that country’s elected government as it did in February? We have all heard the tapes of State Department officials plotting with the US Ambassador in Ukraine to overthrow the government. We heard US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland bragging that the US spent $5 billion on regime change in Ukraine. Why is that OK? 
The resolution (paragraph 11) accuses the people in east Ukraine of holding “fraudulent and illegal elections” in November. Why is it that every time elections do not produce the results desired by the US government they are called “illegal” and “fraudulent”? Aren’t the people of eastern Ukraine allowed self-determination? Isn’t that a basic human right?
The resolution (paragraph 13) demands a withdrawal of Russia forces from Ukraine even though the US government has provided no evidence the Russian army was ever in Ukraine. This paragraph also urges the government in Kiev to resume military operations against the eastern regions seeking independence. 
The resolution (paragraph 14) states with certainty that the Malaysia Airlines flight 17 that crashed in Ukraine was brought down by a missile “fired by Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.” This is simply incorrect, as the final report on the investigation of this tragedy will not even be released until next year and the preliminary report did not state that a missile brought down the plane. Neither did the preliminary report — conducted with the participation of all countries involved — assign blame to any side. 
Paragraph 16 of the resolution condemns Russia for selling arms to the Assad government in Syria. It does not mention, of course, that those weapons are going to fight ISIS – which we claim is the enemy -- while the US weapons supplied to the rebels in Syria have actually found their way into the hands of ISIS!
Paragraph 17 of the resolution condemns Russia for what the US claims are economic sanctions (“coercive economic measures”) against Ukraine. This even though the US has repeatedly hit Russia with economic sanctions and is considering even more! 
The resolution (paragraph 22) states that Russia invaded the Republic of Georgia in 2008. This is simply untrue. Even the European Union – no friend of Russia – concluded in its investigation of the events in 2008 that it was Georgia that “started an unjustified war” against Russia not the other way around! How does Congress get away with such blatant falsehoods? Do Members not even bother to read these resolutions before voting?
In paragraph 34 the resolution begins to even become comical, condemning the Russians for what it claims are attacks on computer networks of the United States and “illicitly acquiring information” about the US government. In the aftermath of the Snowden revelations about the level of US spying on the rest of the world, how can the US claim the moral authority to condemn such actions in others?
Chillingly, the resolution singles out Russian state-funded media outlets for attack, claiming that they “distort public opinion.” The US government, of course, spends billions of dollars worldwide to finance and sponsor media outlets including Voice of America and RFE/RL, as well as to subsidize “independent” media in countless counties overseas. How long before alternative information sources like RT are banned in the United States? This legislation brings us closer to that unhappy day when the government decides the kind of programming we can and cannot consume — and calls such a violation “freedom.”
The resolution gives the green light (paragraph 45) to Ukrainian President Poroshenko to re-start his military assault on the independence-seeking eastern provinces, urging the “disarming of separatist and paramilitary forces in eastern Ukraine.” Such a move will mean many more thousands of dead civilians. 
To that end, the resolution directly involves the US government in the conflict by calling on the US president to “provide the government of Ukraine with lethal and non-lethal defense articles, services, and training required to effectively defend its territory and sovereignty.” This means US weapons in the hands of US-trained military forces engaged in a hot war on the border with Russia. Does that sound at all like a good idea?
There are too many more ridiculous and horrific statements in this legislation to completely discuss. Probably the single most troubling part of this resolution, however, is the statement that  “military intervention” by the Russian Federation in Ukraine “poses a threat to international peace and security.” Such terminology is not an accident: this phrase is the poison pill planted in this legislation from which future, more aggressive resolutions will follow. After all, if we accept that Russia is posing a “threat” to international peace how can such a thing be ignored? These are the slippery slopes that lead to war.
This dangerous legislation passed today, December 4, with only ten (!) votes against! Only ten legislators are concerned over the use of blatant propaganda and falsehoods to push such reckless saber-rattling toward Russia. 
Here are the Members who voted “NO” on this legislation. If you do not see your own Representative on this list call and ask why they are voting to bring us closer to war with Russia! If you do see your Representative on the below list, call and thank him or her for standing up to the warmongers.
Voting “NO” on H. Res. 758:

1) Justin Amash (R-MI)
2) John Duncan (R-TN)
3) Alan Grayson, (D-FL)
4) Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
5) Walter Jones (R-NC)
6) Thomas Massie (R-KY)
7) Jim McDermott (D-WA)
8 George Miller (D-CA)
9) Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)

10 Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)

03 December 2014

Killing the Hog (II)

Related posts:

President Obama’s sacking of defense secretary Chuck Hagel began a particularly messy ‘end-of-administration’ kabuki dance in Versailles on the Potomac.   This link will take you to a very insightful interview explaining the nature of this spectacle.  

Ian Masters (of the excellent radio show Background Briefing)  talks to Pierre Sprey* about the third-tier selection of the industry-friendly Ashton Carter** to replace Hagel.   But there is much more.  The discussion quickly spins off into a wider discussion of the dysfunctional politics of the American Empire and the permanent war economy, before it ends  with a brilliant discourse on the Air Force’s plan to kill the A-10 Warthog.   

Sprey knows what he is talking about.  He understands Pentagon politics as well as anyone I ever met.  An engineer and mathematician, a highly accomplished bureaucratic infighter, Sprey was a principal member of the design team that over came massive Air Force resistance to create the highly successful F-16 and A-10 jet-fighter bombers in the late 1960s and early 1970s (see Robert Coram’s, Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War).   

In the case of the A-10, Sprey was the both the inspiration and guiding force in its conception and design.  He was also the key strategist the bureaucratic battles to stop the Air Force from killing the program — battles that began in late 1960s, when the A-10 was a paper airplane have continued intermittently to this day, including the current efforts by the Air Force to kill the A-10 over the objections of the Congress.  

I urge you to take 20 minutes to listen to the discussion between Ian Masters and Pierre Sprey. 
* Caveat emptor: Sprey is a long-time associate and close friend of mine. I have had a front row seat in the peanut gallery or been a minor player in the A-10 wars from the time I was a 2nd Lt in the AF in 1968 until I retired from the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2003.  So I freely admit that I am proudly biased both with regard to both Sprey’s work and the A-10.

** Apparently Carter is also taxi-cab friendly.  On 12 February 2009, Bill Gertz of the Washington Times reported that Carter's nomination to be Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition ran into obstacles, because of financial questions about Carter's past activities, including a "government reimbursement for taxi cab ride he took from Washington to his residence in Massachusetts." (H/T Mike Lofgren, author of The Party is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted and the seminal essay Anatomy of the Deep State.)

02 December 2014

Killing the Hog

Obscene Butchery in Hall of Mirrors that is Versailles on the Potomac

Related posts:

The AF intends to prematurely retire the most effective close air support plane in the world — the A-10 Warthog, known affectionately to its supporters as “The Hog.”  Its effectiveness in real war is unquestioned by those in the best position to know the truth: the grunts on the ground who need help in deadly firefights.  Over the years, I have talked to many soldiers and marines with combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, and all who have seen the Hog in action attest enthusiastically to this unique effectiveness.  Even the AF commander in the First Iraq War, General Charles Horner, said publicly at its conclusion, “the A-10 saved my ass.”  The Hog’s effectiveness in real war is not some arcane point in the printout of a theoretical computerized effectiveness model — it is a fact.

Yet in the middle of another war, with lives again at stake, the Air Force is literally telling Congress and the American people to believe that a bird in the hand (the A-10) is worth much less than a bird in the bush (the F-35) — i.e., the AF is making the outrageous claim that spending hundreds of millions to keep the combat-proven effectiveness of the A-10 in the fleet is less important than spending tens of billions for the unproven, hypothetical effectiveness of the over-cost, behind-schedule, underperforming, problem-plagued F-35, which if its schedule does not slip again, will not have an initial operational capability before 2019.   

If Congress goes along with the AF plan to kill the Hog, it would explicitly affirm the sick set of priorities that are the central corruption in the Military-Industrial-Complex (MICC): namely that the MICC is a domestic political-economic faction willing do anything to shovel money to itself, while hypocritically wrapping itself in the flag of sacrifice and patriotism of others.  By making the 'Hog kill' the law of the land, Congress would affirm that the MICC's corrupt value system is more important than the welfare of the troops Congress claims to support and the taxpayers it claims to protect. 

More important is the symbolism of the kill: It would affirm in the clearest way how the MICC has become the nightmare version of the kind of faction James Madison warned about in Federalist #10.  It is a nightmare, because it is out of control, in ways even worse than President Eisenhower suggested in his farewell address.  The MICC preys on the cracks and fissures in Madison's sacred system of checks and balances, in a way that Madison could not have possibly imagined, as I explained in my 1990 pamphlet, Defense Power Games.  That is why the A-10 has become the poster child for the MICC at its worst.  The corruption is front and center for anyone with a discerning mind and a desire to see the MICC’s value system for what it really is.  

Andrew Cockburn* explains brilliantly in the LA Times op-ed attached below how this obscenity is now unfolding, and he shows how the Congress is showing signs of going wobbly.  

Thanks to Cockburn, that poster child is in full view before Congress votes; but Congress is in need of some corset stays to stiffen its spine; it remains to be seen if propping up high cost MICC boondoggles at home is more important than fielding low-cost weapons that work in real war.
* Cockburn is a long time friend of mine.

Chuck Spinney

Op-Ed Saving the Warthog to save troop lives
THE A-10 Warthog, whose program may be cut, has drawn praise for its close support of ground troops. (Staff Sgt. Jeremy Wilson / U.S. Air Force)
By ANDREW COCKBURN, Los Angeles Times, 2 December 2012
The A-10 Warthog is the only aircraft specifically designed to support ground troops in combat
Scores of combat veterans ascribe their survival in firefights to intervention by one or more A-10s
Reminiscing about his service in the Korean War, a veteran once remarked to me with wonder how his Army boots were so inadequate in the freezing conditions of winter combat that he and his comrades would compete for the fur-lined boots of dead Chinese soldiers and even mount dangerous trench raids for that purpose. “How was it,” he said, “that I, as a soldier of the richest nation on Earth, was having to steal the boots of soldiers from one of the poorest countries on Earth?”
The campaign against the A-10 has been ongoing for decades but has taken on new urgency as the Air Force defends its treasured F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
The answer was not that the U.S. military was too underfunded to buy proper boots for its men. After all, the military budget shot up to World War II levels once the war started. It was because senior commanders preferred to spend the money elsewhere, mostly on a variety of strategic nuclear bombers and other aircraft that never reached Korea.
U.S. military footwear has improved since those days, but the overall mind-set has not changed, as glaringly demonstrated by the Air Force's current efforts to junk the A-10 Warthog, the only aircraft specifically designed to support ground troops in combat. The plane is devastatingly effective in this role, thanks to its ability to maneuver close to the ground in the face of hostile fire while accurately targeting enemy positions with its lethal 30-millimeter cannon. Scores of combat veterans ascribe their survival in firefights to intervention by one or more A-10s, accolades accorded no other combat plane.
This simple fact of life cuts no ice with Air Force planners, traditionally disdainful of the close support mission, as they pursue a furious campaign to discard the A-10. They justify their plan with excuses, including that the plane is “40 years old and designed to fight Soviet tanks” and therefore obsolete. But they studiously ignore its vital contributions in every war since 1991.
Lacking experience in, or at least uncaring of, current combat realities, commanders tout multi-role substitutes, such as the B-1 bomber, which depend on video screens and map coordinates to place their bombs. Reliance on such means has left a trail of collateral damage across recent war zones, not only dead civilians by the score, but also U.S. service personnel. In June, a B-1 killed five American soldiers because the crew did not know that the plane's technology could not detect markers for “friendlies.”
The campaign against the A-10 has been ongoing for decades but has taken on new urgency as the Air Force defends its treasured F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. This gold-plated clunker, years late and staggeringly over budget, is today's equivalent of the Korean War-era nuclear bombers that ate up all the boot money. Although the program is years behind schedule because of its shortcomings, the Air Force shamelessly claims that the principal obstacle to imminent deployment is a suddenly discovered shortage of mechanics that can be alleviated only by reassigning personnel from a junked A-10 program.
“Are we going to delay the Joint Strike Fighter?” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said recently. “That would be awful. Are we going to underman the very aircraft that are most needed in this latest fight” against Islamic State?
The delay of which secretary James complained in this fatuous statement (the F-35 will not even complete operational testing until 2019) has been brought about by congress.  Impelled by well-informed arguments from combat veterans and the clear political logic of sticking up for the grunts on the ground, the House Armed Services Committee, as well as the full House and relevant Senate defense committees, voted overwhelmingly this year to prevent the Air Force from retiring the plane.
That should have been the end of it, but the service chiefs refuse to concede defeat. The Senate and House committee bills expressed the same intent but in different ways. The final 2015 defense authorization bill is therefore being negotiated behind closed doors by the committees' leadership. It is here, secluded from public scrutiny, that the will of the wider Congress and the lives of soldiers may be ignored in favor of obliging the generals' demands. The respective Armed Services Committee chairmen, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), have shown little interest in the case for the A-10. Rumors on Capitol Hill do not bode a good result.
Let us hope that common sense and simple humanity win the day.
Andrew Cockburn, Washington editor of Harper's magazine, is the author of the forthcoming "Kill Chain: Drones and the Rise of the High-Tech Assassins."

12 November 2014

The Struggle for Palestine (update)

I am pleased to announce the publication of a new page on this website devoted to the historical essays of William R. Polk, a well known historian specializing in the Middle East and a good friend.  The initial set of three essays is his recent series, The Struggle for Palestine.  Together, these essays amount to a small book and provide very useful background for anyone interested in understanding this intractable problem.  They are downloadable in pdf format.

However, before reading them, I would urge readers to watch this one hour video. It is about two years old, having been posted on Youtube on 2 December 2012.  The speaker is an Israeli and son of one of Israel's legendary generals.  It is one of the best video summaries of the struggle for Palestine that I have ever seen (h/t to James P. Stevenson for bringing this to my my attention.)

05 November 2014

Assault on the Liberty - Revisited

[10 November edit: is a slightly changed version of the 5 Nov posting to account for the fact that the embedded youtube video in my original posting of 5 November has been taken down.]

Al Jazeera America has produced a damning TV documentary on Israel's deliberate and unprovoked attack on the U.S.N.S. Liberty, a WWII Navy liberty ship that had been converted into electronics snooper to support the NSA by listening in on other nation's electronic transmissions.  The attack occurred in international waters, in clear weather, at 2PM on 8 June 1967, the fourth day of Israel's six day war, just prior to the Israeli shift of its main effort to the northern front in Syria (which resulted in Israel's capture of the Golan Heights, a move President Johnson had urged the Israelis not to make).  The film writers viewpoint can be at this link.  As of 10 November, the Al Jazeera video was still posted on the military.com website at this link. [A separate video interviewing the survivors of the Liberty and other officials can be found at this link.]

The story of this attack, its cover up, and the sellout of the American crew members by the U.S. politicians and the U.S. Navy is one of the most disgusting in the annuals of American military history.  To this day, the overwhelming majority of Americans are either unfamiliar with it or believe it was a tragic accident.  We still do not know exactly why Israel chose to  attack the Liberty, because officials in the US government colluded with Israelis to squelch investigations by fobbing it off as a case of mistaken identity.  (The most prominent hypothesis for Israel's motivations is posed at the end of the Al Jazeera documentary, but it is not the only one.) 

While most of the information in the Al Jazeera documentary has been in the public domain for years, Al Jazeera (and the Liberty survivors) pulled off a few journalistic coups:  

1. Audios of the tapes between Israeli pilots and their controllers were aired for the first time.  They confirm that Israeli pilots could see clearly that the target was an American ship; they questioned their air controllers over the decision to attack, saying explicitly the target was an American ship.  But controllers ordered them to attack anyway, and then one transmission indicated  that the Israeli Navy was going to get a piece of the action. Sure enough, Israeli naval patrol boats showed up after the air attacks, torpedoed the heavily damaged ship, and machine gunned life rafts and survivors. Tapes of these conversations have been known to exist for a long time, but the American tapes were buried in the National Security Agency's (NSA's) super secret vaults.  Israeli tapes are also suspected to exist.  So while it is not clear who Al Jazeera's source is, the airing of these tapes is a major contribution to this sordid story (assuming they are authentic).

2.  Al Jazeera also identified some pro-Israeli agents of influence (spies) among President Lyndon Johnson's most intimate associates and advisors, who where feeding the Israelis information on Johnson's intentions for dealing with the immediate aftermath of the attack.  In effect, Al Jazeera breaks new ground in explaining how the Israeli and American governments effectively colluded to successfully limit political damage and ultimately bury the story about Israel's cold blooded killing of 34 and the wounding of 174 American sailors.

3.  Al Jazzeera interviewed for the record a former director of NSA and a senior intelligence official of the State Department (now both retired).

In no way implying criticism, there a few points Al Jazeera did not raise, probably for reasons of time: The most important question not addressed is - Why is the Liberty disaster the only major Naval disaster that Congress steadfastly refused to investigate?  The documentary referred obliquely to the variety of systematic and malicious pressures to silence the crew members from discussing their experience.  These pressures have been well described by the Liberty survivors and the support the thesis of a coverup, beginning with 1979 publication of Assault on the Liberty, written by the Liberty's executive officer, James Ennes.  The book was distributed gratis to every member of Congress, but generated no interest in an investigation.

The Liberty Affair may the most sordid example of Israel's corrupting influence on U.S. domestic politics and foreign policy, but it was by no means the first.  Attached herewith is Ambassador Andrew I. Killgore's excellent review of Alison Weir's important book, Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of the U.S. was used to create Israel (February 2014).  Weir documents the early history (with roots dating back to the 19th Century) of how  Zionist agents of influence misshaped America's domestic politics to create the state of Israel.  Whereas Weir's book is about the roots of Israel's distorting influence on U.S. domestic as well as foreign policy, a description of how that misshapes contemporary U.S. foreign policy can be found in The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt.  

The Assault on the U.S.N.S Liberty is a hinge connecting the murky distortions of the past (Weir) to the outright corruption of present (Mearsheimer and Walt).  That is why it is time for Congress to hold investigatory hearings to let the sun shine in, perhaps with rays of light reaching in both directions.  At the very least, Congress can determine if the audio tapes are authentic. But if you believe our broken political system can muster the courage to do that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

How Zionists Outmaneuvered and Replaced State Department Experts
A Brief History of US-Israel Relations
by Amb. ANDREW I. KILLGORE, Counterpunch, 4 November 2014
Alison Weir writes at the beginning of her book, Against Our Better Judgment: The hidden history of how the U.S. was used to create Israel, that while many people are led to believe that U.S. support for Israel is driven by the American establishment and U.S. national interests, facts do not support that belief. The reality is that while for decades almost all U.S. experts opposed Israel and its founding, they were outmaneuvered and eventually replaced by Zionists.
Political Zionism started in the late 1800s as an international movement to establish a Jewish state somewhere in the world. By 1897 the movement was led by Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl, who convened the First Zionist World Congress in Basel, Switzerland the same year. U.S. Zionism began in the 1880s. The Board of Delegates of American Israelites was organized in 1861. The group was strong enough during the American Civil War to block an effort by the Union to declare America a Christian nation.
In 1887 President Grover Cleveland appointed a Jewish ambassador to Turkey, establishing a precedent for naming a Jew to that post for the next 30 years. This represented the growing power of the Zionist movement. But in 1912, when the Zionist Literary Society asked President William Taft for an endorsement, Secretary of State Philander Knox was able to thwart the effort. Knox argued that Zionism “related to the interests of countries other than our own.”
But after Knox, simply every American official has opposed Zionist efforts to involve the United States on the same grounds: the efforts are against the interests of the United States. The Zionists were and are aware of this, so they always resorted to secrecy to conceal their real aims.
In 1912 the prominent U.S. attorney Louis Brandeis became head of the Zionist Central office, which had moved from Berlin, Germany a little while before. Brandeis is better known as a Supreme Court Justice, but he played a sinister role in high Zionist affairs. He recruited young lawyers, particularly from Harvard, to work for the Zionist cause. He was a leader of a secret society called the Parushim to work for Zionism with all the outward appearance of simply a fraternal order. Each member took a practically blood oath to secretly work for Zionism.
When Brandeis was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Woodrow Wilson he officially resigned from all his clubs and affiliations. But this was only for show. Weir quotes historian/journalist Donald Neff: “Through his lieutenants he remained the power behind the throne. One of these lieutenants was the well-regarded Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, whose Zionist activities had largely gone unnoticed.”
Weir very astutely and brilliantly covers World War One and the Balfour Declaration (Britain promising to support a “national home” for Jews in Palestine). The Declaration was critical for Zionism success with the reason behind it, Zionism’s promise to work for the U.S. to enter the war on Britain’s side. Author Alison Weir writes that whether the Zionist role in getting America into the war was major, as the Zionists claim, and the British believed, is unclear.
In one of her quoted references Chaim Weizmann, who later became the first president of Israel, complains in his autobiography about the British/Zionist myth that he invented TNT, the reward for which was the Balfour Declaration. He said he did not invent the explosive. The origin of the TNT myth was an obvious attempt to cover up Britain’s real reason for issuing the declaration, which clearly was to get America into the war on Britain’s side, without which she would have lost the war.
Ms. Weir’s coverage of the 1919 Peace Conference in Paris is excellent. The Conference was rife with Zionists arguing for the Jewish state. The most prominent American opposing them was Dr. Howard Bliss, president of the Syrian Protestant College, later the American University of Beirut. President Wilson did send the King-Crane Commission to study what the Middle Easterners wanted. The two men found that the Arabs were utterly against the “national home” idea. It was clear that the Jewish representatives wanted a nearly complete dispossession of the Palestinians and that armed force would be required to carry out Zionist aims.
Throughout Judgment Alison Weir clearly documents the total lack of ethics and morality, as generally understood, on the part of the Zionists. For example, they fabricated stories of gross anti-Semitism in Poland to gain sympathy. When the American ambassador to Poland reported that they were false, Brandeis and Frankfurter claimed that the ambassador had undercut their mission. Frankfurter threatened that he would try to block his Senate confirmation.
The Zionists ran a gigantic public relations campaign targeting every sector of society, including particularly the Christians, who had little knowledge of the nature of Zionism or of its true goals. Thus the Zionists played on the “tragic plight of the refugees fleeing from persecution and finding no home.” As anti-Zionist Rabbi Elmer Berger says in his memoirs, there was a “ubiquitous propaganda campaign reaching just about every point of political leverage of American life.”
It is important to emphasize that essentially all official American personnel opposed the Zionists. Foreign Service Officer Evan Wilson, U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, opposed them on national interests grounds. Loy Henderson, director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs, wrote that supporting partition of Palestine “would have a strongly adverse effect on American interests throughout the Near and Middle East.” When Henderson persisted in putting his views forward, the Zionists attacked him viciously, calling him an “anti-Semite,” demanding his resignation and threatening his family. Henderson was transferred by President Harry Truman as ambassador to Nepal/India. The transfer of Henderson reflects the reality of what happens to Foreign Service officers who criticize Israel, even today.
Others who spoke warning words about Zionism and its adverse effect on American national interests were George F. Kennan, head of the State Department’s Policy Planning staff. He wrote that the 1947 partition plan for Palestine had done enormous damage to the U.S. Under Secretary of State (later Secretary) Dean Acheson said that to transform Palestine into a Jewish state would imperil not only American but all Western interests in the Near East.
Judgment is prodigiously documented, with nearly 200 books and papers listed. Weir quotes two sources, one of them an Iraqi Jew, as writing that the Zionists terrorized Iraqi Jews into going to Israel by planting bombs in Baghdad synagogues, all to increase the population of Israel. Jews even killed Jews to force immigration to Israel.
In 1948 there was a battle between Secretary of State (General) George Marshall and Clark Clifford, political adviser to President Harry Truman, over Truman’s support for Zionism/Israel. Marshall argued for national interests, while Clifford argued for electoral politics. Marshall quit speaking to Clifford over their differences.
In April 1948, just before the State of Israel was established, Jewish terrorists attacked the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin, massacring 175 men, women and children. The facts spread quickly in Palestine and 750,000 refugees fled from their homes. The Zionists had anticipated the flight, leaving room for Jews in the evacuated homes and farms.
The ruthlessness of the Zionists is illustrated by the fate of Dorothy Thompson, “one of the most famous journalists of the 20th century,” according to the Britannica encyclopedia. Her columns were in newspapers all over the country, her radio program was heard by millions of people. She had been married to one of the most famous novelists (Babbitt), Sinclair Lewis.
Thompson had at first supported Zionism, but changed her mind when she saw Palestinian refugees. Then she was attacked as an anti-Semite, her columns were dropped from newspapers and her speaking engagements stopped. Today, Weir says, “She has been largely erased from history.”
Now that Israel has been around for more than 60 years and its virtues are sung in the American media, it is easy to forget, or not even to have heard, that the country is extremely adverse to American national interests and its policies enormously destructive and dangerous to America’s well-being. Thus Alison Weir must be highly commended for throwing such a brilliantly hard light on the relationship between the United States and Israel. I hope this marvelous book gets all the attention it deserves.

Ambassador Andrew I. Killgore is the publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and a retired diplomat who served as a career foreign service officer in Frankfurt, London, Beirut, Jerusalem, Amman, Baghdad, Dacca, Tehran, Manama, and Wellington and as a desk officer in other Near East and South Asia regional bureau positions in the State Department in Washington before his assignment as U.S. Ambassador in Doha. Ambassador Killgore received the “Foreign Service Cup” in 1997, the citation stating: “For impressive contributions to increased awareness and understanding of the Middle East and the many dimensions of United States’ interests in the area.”

19 October 2014

Why the Ayatollah Just Said "No"

Attached beneath my introduction are two important essays by Gareth Porter.  The first appeared in Foreign Policy and the second in IPSNews. Links to the originals are included below.
Saddam Husayn invaded Iran without warning on 22 September 1980, probably with the encouragement of the Carter Administration (see Saddam’s Green Light).  Chemical weapons were used extensively during the Iran-Iraq War (Sept 1980 - August 1988).  While it was well known that Iraq initiated their use, the mainstream media became littered with insinuations that Iran had retaliated in kind — and a general impression was created that both sides were using chemical weapons.  In retrospect, it is now widely acknowledged by scholars that Iran did not resort to chemical weapons; i.e., that only Iraq used them. See, for example, this entry in wikipedia:
At the time of the conflict, the U.N. Security Council issued statements that "chemical weapons had been used in the war." U.N. statements never clarified that only Iraq was using chemical weapons, and according to retrospective authors "the international community remained silent as Iraq used weapons of mass destruction against Iranian[s] as well as Iraqi Kurds."[40][41][42]  [emphasis added]
Nevertheless, the impression that both sides used chemical weapons persists in many quarters to this day.  It is important to remember the context of the 1980s: the Reagan Administration (1) was allied with Iraq, (2) was adept in creating narratives for the press and in pressuring the United Nations, and (3) had an interest in demonizing Iran.  
Now, fast forward to 2003: The Bush Administration convinced the American people that the US had to invade and bomb Iraq because Saddam Husayn (1) was  developing atomic weapons, (2) had demonstrated he had no compunctions against using weapons of mass destruction,  and (3) these weapons might well be given to Saddam’s Al Qaeda terrorist allies.  While the Iran-Iraq war suggested the second claim was probably true; the first and third claims were patently false, and neither represented the consensus view of the intelligence community in 2003.  The intelligence was fixed to fit the policy narrative.  Today, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Iraqis have died because of the US invasion and its consequences.  Iraq is physically in ruins and is now well on its way to disintegrating into at least three permanent-warring, quasi-tribal statelets, with a good dose of religious war to boot.  Without the U.S. invasion of Iraq, there would be no ISIS to spook the world.  ISIS units are led and trained, at least in part, by former Iraqi military officers, who were impoverished and made unemployable by the U.S. de-ba’athification policy.
A variation of the same info op that grew into the 2003 invasion of Iraq has been in play with respect to Iran for several years.  Today, similar claims vaguely conflating nuclear weapons and terrorism are being made by the U.S. and especially by Israel: namely Iran has an atomic weapons program that must be stopped, in part because Iran is the world’s most dangerous supporter of an undifferentiated blend of global Islamic terrorism.  Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 29 September 2014 speech to the UN conflating Hamas, ISIS, and Iran being perhaps the most bizarre example of this kind of narrative in action. 
So, the question of why Iran did not use chemical weapons when so strongly provoked to do so by Iraq’s chemical attacks in the Iraq-Iran war, ought to be quite relevant to any assessment of Iran’s intentions today.  
But this is a question that has not really been addressed until now.  Attached below are two very important reports by Gareth Porter, one of America’s very best investigative journalists.  In Attachment 1, Porter reveals the inside history of Iranian decisions not to use chemical weapons in the 1980-88 war on moral and legal grounds and its tight connection to the Iranian decision not to develop atomic weapons.  In Attachment 2, Porter describes a specific case of how information is being manipulated and twisted to support the contention that Iran is aggressively pursing an atomic weapons capability (the credibility of which depends in large part on one’s ignorance of the kind of information contained in Attachment 1).  Attachment 2 is also a revealing bookend to Netanyahu’s hyping of the Iranian threat in his speech to the UN. 
Chuck Spinney

—[Attachment 1: This essay first appeared in Foreign Policy]—

When the Ayatollah Said No to Nukes
In an exclusive interview, a top Iranian official says that Khomeini personally stopped him from building Iran's WMD program.
BY Gareth Porter, Foreign Policy, OCTOBER 16, 2014
[Reprinted with permission of the publisher]
The nuclear negotiations between six world powers and Iran, which are now nearing their November deadline, remain deadlocked over U.S. demands that Iran dismantle the bulk of its capacity to enrich uranium. The demand is based on the suspicion that Iran has worked secretly to develop nuclear weapons in the past and can't be trusted not to do so again.
Iran argues that it has rejected nuclear weapons as incompatible with Islam and cites a fatwa of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as proof. American and European officials remain skeptical, however, that the issue is really governed by Shiite Islamic principles. They have relied instead on murky intelligence that has never been confirmed about an alleged covert Iranian nuclear weapons program.
But the key to understanding Iran's policy toward nuclear weapons lies in a historical episode during its eight-year war with Iraq. 
The story, told in full for the first time here, explains why Iran never retaliated against Iraq's chemical weapons attacks on Iranian troops and civilians, which killed 20,000 Iranians and severely injured 100,000 more. And it strongly suggests that the Iranian leadership's aversion to developing chemical and nuclear weapons is deep-rooted and sincere.
A few Iranian sources have previously pointed to a fatwa by the Islamic Republic's first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, prohibiting chemical weapons as the explanation for why Iran did not deploy these weapons during the war with Iraq. But no details have ever been made public on when and how Khomeini issued such a fatwa, so it has been ignored for decades.
Now, however, the wartime chief of the Iranian ministry responsible for military procurement has provided an eyewitness account of Khomeini's ban not only on chemical weapons, but on nuclear weapons as well. 
In an interview with me in Tehran in late September, Mohsen Rafighdoost, who served as minister of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) throughout the eight-year war, revealed that he had proposed to Khomeini that Iran begin working on both nuclear and chemical weapons -- but was told in two separate meetings that weapons of mass destruction are forbidden by Islam. I sought the interview with Rafighdoost after learning of an interview he had with Mehr News Agency in January in which he alluded to the wartime meetings with Khomeini and the supreme leader's forbidding chemical and nuclear weapons. The interview had never been translated into English.
Rafighdoost was jailed under the Shah for dissident political activity and became a point of contact for anti-Shah activists when he got out of prison in 1978. When Khomeini returned to Tehran from Paris after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Rafighdoost became his bodyguard and head of his security detail. He was also a founding member of the IRGC and was personally involved in every major military decision taken by the corps during the Iran-Iraq War, including the initiation of Iran's ballistic missile program and creation of Hezbollah.
Despite his IRGC background, however, Rafighdoost has embraced the pragmatism of President Hassan Rouhani's government. In October 2013, he recalled in an interview that Khomeini had dissuaded him from setting up the IRGC's headquarters at the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
"Why do you want to go there?" Rafighdoost recalled Khomeini as saying. "Are our disputes with the U.S. supposed to last a thousand years? Do not go there."
Rafighdoost received me in his modest office at the Noor Foundation, of which he has been chairman since 1999. Looking younger than his 74 years, he still has the stocky build of a bodyguard and bright, alert eyes.
Saddam Hussein's Iraq began using chemical weapons against Iranian troops after Iran repelled the initial Iraqi attack and began a counterattack inside Iraq. The Iraqis considered chemical weapons to be the only way to counter Iran's superiority in manpower. Iranian doctors first documented symptoms of mustard gas from Iraqi chemical attacks against Iranian troops in mid-1983. However, Rafighdoost said, a dramatic increase in Iraqi gas attacks occurred during an Iranian offensive in southern Iraq in February and March 1984. The attacks involved both mustard gas and the nerve gas tabun, which prompted him to take a major new initiative in his war planning.
Rafighdoost told me he asked some foreign governments for assistance, including weapons, to counter the chemical-war threat, but all of them rejected his requests. This prompted him to decide that his ministry would have to produce everything Iran needed for the war. "I personally gathered all the researchers who had any knowledge of defense issues," he recalled. He organized groups of specialists to work on each category of military need -- one of which was called "chemical, biological, and nuclear."
Rafighdoost prepared a report on all the specialized groups he had formed and went to discuss it with Khomeini, hoping to get his approval for work on chemical and nuclear weapons. The supreme leader met him accompanied only by his son, Ahmad, who served as chief of staff, according to Rafighdoost. "When Khomeini read the report, he reacted to the chemical-biological-nuclear team by asking, ‘What is this?'" Rafighdoost recalled. 
Khomeini ruled out development of chemical and biological weapons as inconsistent with Islam.
"Imam told me that, instead of producing chemical or biological weapons, we should produce defensive protection for our troops, like gas masks and atropine," Rafighdoost said.
Rafighdoost also told Khomeini that the group had "a plan to produce nuclear weapons." That could only have been a distant goal in 1984, given the rudimentary state of Iran's nuclear program. At that point, Iranian nuclear specialists had no knowledge of how to enrich uranium and had no technology with which to do it. But in any case, Khomeini closed the door to such a program. "We don't want to produce nuclear weapons," Rafighdoost recalls the supreme leader telling him.
Khomeini instructed him instead to "send these scientists to the Atomic Energy Organization," referring to Iran's civilian nuclear-power agency. That edict from Khomeini ended the idea of seeking nuclear weapons, according to Rafighdoost.
The chemical-warfare issue took a new turn in late June 1987, when Iraqi aircraft bombed four residential areas of Sardasht, an ethnically Kurdish city in Iran, with what was believed to be mustard gas. It was the first time Iran's civilian population had been targeted by Iraqi forces with chemical weapons, and the population was completely unprotected. Of 12,000 inhabitants, 8,000 were exposed, and hundreds died.
As popular fears of chemical attacks on more Iranian cities grew quickly, Rafighdoost undertook a major initiative to prepare Iran's retaliation. He worked with the Defense Ministry to create the capability to produce mustard gas weapons.
Rafighdoost was obviously hoping that the new circumstances of Iraqi chemical weapons attacks on Iranian civilians would cause Khomeini to have a different view of the issue. He made it clear to me that Khomeini didn't know about the production of the two chemicals for mustard gas weapons until it had taken place. 
"In the meeting, I told Imam we have high capability to produce chemical weapons," he recalled. Rafighdoost then asked Khomeini for his view on "this capability to retaliate." 
Iran's permanent representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) disclosed the details of Rafighdoost's chemical weapons program in a document provided to the U.S. delegation to the OPCW on May 17, 2004. It was later made public by WikiLeaks, which published a U.S. diplomatic cable reporting on its contents. The document shows that the two ministries had procured the chemical precursors for mustard gas and in September 1987 began to manufacture the chemicals necessary to produce a weapon -- sulfur mustard and nitrogen mustard. But the document also indicated that the two ministries did not "weaponize" the chemicals by putting them into artillery shells, aerial bombs, or rockets.
The supreme leader was unmoved by the new danger presented by the Iraqi gas attacks on civilians. 
"It doesn't matter whether it is on the battlefield or in cities; we are against this," he told Rafighdoost. "It is haram [forbidden] to produce such weapons. You are only allowed to produce protection."
Invoking the Islamic Republic's claim to spiritual and moral superiority over the secular Iraqi regime, Rafighdoost recalls Khomeini asking rhetorically, 
"If we produce chemical weapons, what is the difference between me and Saddam?"
Khomeini's verdict spelled the end of the IRGC's chemical weapons initiative. "Even after Sardasht, there was no way we could retaliate," Rafighdoost recalled. The 2004 Iranian document confirms that production of two chemicals ceased, the buildings in which they were stored were sealed in 1988, and the production equipment was dismantled in 1992.
Khomeini also repeated his edict forbidding work on nuclear weapons, telling him, 
"Don't talk about nuclear weapons at all."
Rafighdoost understood Khomeini's prohibition on the use or production of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons as a fatwa -- a judgment on Islamic jurisprudence by a qualified Islamic scholar. It was never written down or formalized, but that didn't matter, because it was issued by the "guardian jurist" of the Islamic state -- and was therefore legally binding on the entire government. "When Imam said it was haram [forbidden], he didn't have to say it was fatwa," Rafighdoost explained.
Rafighdoost did not recall the date of that second meeting with Khomeini, but other evidence strongly suggests that it was in December 1987. Iranian Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi said in a late December 1987 speech that Iran "is capable of manufacturing chemical weapons" and added that a "special section" had been set up for "offensive chemical weapons." But Mousavi refrained from saying that Iran actually had chemical weapons, and he hinted that Iran was constrained by religious considerations.
 "We will produce them only when Islam allows us and when we are compelled to do so," he said.
A few days after Mousavi's speech, a report in the London daily the Independent referred to a Khomeini fatwa against chemical weapons. 
Former Iranian nuclear negotiator Seyed Hossein Mousavian, now a research scholar at Princeton University, confirmed for this article that Khomeini's fatwa against chemical and nuclear weapons, which accounted for the prime minister's extraordinary statement, was indeed conveyed in the meeting with Rafighdoost.
In February 1988, Saddam stepped up his missile attacks on urban targets in Iran. He also threatened to arm his missiles with chemical weapons, which terrified hundreds of thousands of Iranians. Between a third and a half of the population of Tehran evacuated the city that spring in a panic.
Khomeini's fatwa not only forced the powerful IRGC commander to forgo the desired response to Iraqi chemical weapons attacks, but the fatwa made it all but impossible for Iran to continue the war. 
Although Khomeini had other reasons for what he called "the bitter decision" to accept a cease-fire with Iraq in July 1988, the use of these devastating tools factored into his decision. In a letter explaining his decision, Khomeini said he was consenting to the cease-fire "in light of the enemy's use of chemical weapons and our lack of equipment to neutralize them."
Khomeini's Islamic ruling against all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, was continued by Ali Khamenei, who had served as president under Khomeini and succeeded him as supreme leader in 1989. Iran began publicizing Khamenei's fatwa against nuclear weapons in 2004, but commentators and news media in the United States and Europe have regarded it as a propaganda ploy not to be taken seriously.
The analysis of Khamenei's fatwa has been flawed not only due to a lack of understanding of the role of the "guardian jurist" in the Iranian political-legal system, but also due to ignorance of the history of Khamenei's fatwa. A crucial but hitherto unknown fact is that Khamenei had actually issued the anti-nuclear fatwa without any fanfare in the mid-1990s in response to a request from an official for his religious opinion on nuclear weapons. Mousavian recalls seeing the letter in the office of the Supreme National Security Council, where he was head of the Foreign Relations Committee from 1997 to 2005. The Khamenei letter was never released to the public, apparently reflecting the fact that the government of then President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani had been arguing against nuclear weapons for years on strategic grounds, so publicizing the fatwa appeared unnecessary at that point. 
Since 2012, the official stance of U.S. President Barack Obama's administration has been to welcome the existence of Khamenei's anti-nuclear fatwa. Obama even referred to it in his U.N. General Assembly speech in September 2013. But it seems clear that Obama's advisors still do not understand the fatwa's full significance: 
Secretary of State John Kerry told journalists in July, "The fatwa issued by a cleric is an extremely powerful statement about intent," but then added, "It is our need to codify it."
That statement, like most of the commentary on Khamenei's fatwa against nuclear weapons, has confused fatwas issued by any qualified Muslim scholar with fatwas by the supreme leader on matters of state policy. The former are only relevant to those who follow the scholar's views; the latter, however, are binding on the state as a whole in Iran's Shiite Islam-based political system, holding a legal status above mere legislation.
The full story of Khomeini's wartime fatwa against chemical weapons shows that when the "guardian jurist" of Iran's Islamic system issues a religious judgment against weapons of mass destruction as forbidden by Islam, it overrides all other political-military considerations. 
Khomeini's fatwa against chemical weapons prevented the manufacture and use of such weapons -- even though it put Iranian forces at a major disadvantage in the war against Iraq and even though the IRGC was strongly in favor of using such weapons. It is difficult to imagine a tougher test of the power of the leader's Islamic jurisprudence over an issue.
Given the fundamental misunderstanding of the way in which the Islamic Republic has made policy on weapons of mass destruction, the episode of Khomeini's fatwa has obvious implications for the nuclear negotiations with Iran. Negotiators who are unaware of the real history of Iran's anti-nuclear fatwas will be prone to potentially costly miscalculations.
——[Attachment 2: This essay first appeared in IPS News]——

History of Key Document in IAEA Probe Suggests Israeli Forgery
Analysis by Gareth Porter

[Reprinted with permission of the Author]

WASHINGTON, Oct 17 2014 (IPS) - Western diplomats have reportedly faulted Iran in recent weeks for failing to provide the International Atomic Energy Agency with information on experiments on high explosives intended to produce a nuclear weapon, according to an intelligence document the IAEA is investigating.
But the document not only remains unverified but can only be linked to Iran by a far-fetched official account marked by a series of coincidences related to a foreign scientist that that are highly suspicious.
The original appearance of the document in early 2008, moreover, was not only conveniently timed to support Israel’s attack on a U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran in December that was damaging to Israeli interests, but was leaked to the news media with a message that coincided with the current Israeli argument.
The IAEA has long touted the document, which came from an unidentified member state, as key evidence justifying suspicion that Iran has covered up past nuclear weapons work.
In its September 2008 report the IAEA said the document describes “experimentation in connection with symmetrical initiation of a hemispherical high explosive charge suitable for an implosion type nuclear device.”
But an official Iranian communication to the IAEA Secretariat challenged its authenticity, declaring, “There is no evidence or indication in this document regarding its linkage to Iran or its preparation by Iran.”
The IAEA has never responded to the Iranian communication.
The story of the high explosives document and related intelligence published in the November 2011 IAEA report raises more questions about the document than it answers.
The report said the document describes the experiments as being monitored with “large numbers of optical fiber cables” and cited intelligence that the experiments had been assisted by a foreign expert said to have worked in his home country’s nuclear weapons programme.
The individual to whom the report referred, Ukrainian scientist Vyacheslav Danilenko, was not a nuclear weapons expert, however, but a specialist on nanodiamond synthesis. Danilenko had lectured on that subject in Iran from 2000 to 2005 and had co-authored a professional paper on the use of fiber optic cables to monitor explosive shock waves in 1992, which was available online.  
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Those facts presented the opportunity for a foreign intelligence service to create a report on high explosives experiments that would suggest a link to nuclear weapons as well as to Danilenko.  Danilenko’s open-source publication could help convince the IAEA Safeguards Department of the authenticity of the document, which would otherwise have been missing.
Even more suspicious, soon after the appearance of the high explosives document, the same state that had turned it over to the IAEA claimed to have intelligence on a large cylinder at Parchin suitable for carrying out the high explosives experiments described in the document, according to the 2011 IAEA report.
And it identified Danilenko as the designer of the cylinder, again basing the claim on an open-source publication that included a sketch of a cylinder he had designed in 1999-2000.
The whole story thus depended on two very convenient intelligence finds within a very short time, both of which were linked to a single individual and his open source publications.
Furthermore, the cylinder Danilenko sketched and discussed in the publication was explicitly designed for nanodiamonds production, not for bomb-making experiments.
Robert Kelley, who was the chief of IAEA teams in Iraq, has observed that the IAEA account of the installation of the cylinder at a site in Parchin by March 2000 is implausible, since Danilenko was on record as saying he was still in the process of designing it in 2000.
And Kelley, an expert on nuclear weapons, has pointed out that the cylinder would have been unnecessary for “multipoint initiation” experiments. 
“We’ve been taken for a ride on this whole thing,” Kelley told IPS.
The document surfaced in early 2008, under circumstances pointing to an Israeli role. An article in the May 2008 issue of Jane’s International Defence Review, dated Mar. 14, 2008, referred to, “[d]ocuments shown exclusively to Jane’s” by a “source connected to a Western intelligence service”.
It said the documents showed that Iran had “actively pursued the development of a nuclear weapon system based on relatively advanced multipoint initiation (MPI) nuclear implosion detonation technology for some years….”
The article revealed the political agenda behind the leaking of the high explosives document. “The picture the papers paints,” he wrote, “starkly contradicts the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released in December 2007, which said Tehran had frozen its military nuclear programme in 2003.”
That was the argument that Israeli officials and supporters in the United States had been making in the wake of the National Intelligence Estimate, which Israel was eager to discredit.
The IAEA first mentioned the high explosives document in an annex to its May 2008 report, shortly after the document had been leaked to Janes.
David Albright, the director of the Institute for Science and International Security, who enjoyed a close relationship with the IAEA Deputy Director Olli Heinonen, revealed in an interview with this writer in September 2008 that Heinonen had told him one document that he had obtained earlier that year had confirmed his trust in the earlier collection of intelligence documents. Albright said that document had “probably” come from Israel.
Former IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei was very sceptical about all the purported Iranian documents shared with the IAEA by the United States. Referring to those documents, he writes in his 2011 memoirs, 
“No one knew if any of this was real.”
ElBaradei recalls that the IAEA received still more purported Iranian documents directly from Israel in summer 2009. The new documents included a two-page document in Farsi describing a four-year programme to produce a neutron initiator for a fission chain reaction.
Kelley has said that ElBaradei found the document lacking credibility, because it had no chain of custody, no identifiable source, and no official markings or anything else that could establish its authenticity—the same objections Iran has raised about the high explosives document.
Meanwhile, ElBaradei resisted pressure from the United States and its European allies in 2009 to publish a report on that and other documents – including the high explosive document — as an annex to an IAEA report. ElBaradei’s successor as director general, Yukia Amano, published the annex the anti-Iran coalition had wanted earlier in the November 2011 report.
Amano later told colleagues at the agency that he had no choice, because he promised the United States to do so as part of the agreement by Washington to support his bid for the job within the Board of Governors, according to a former IAEA official who asked not to be identified.